Observing life: Bringing back the intimate dinner party

My preferred style of entertaining at home is probably best described as classic 1980s. For it was around that time that I first learnt about ­hosting the perfect dinner party. My parents were ­experts, and their children were more than happy to earn extra pocket money by folding napkins and buffing ­silverware. Polishing the long […]

My preferred style of entertaining at home is probably best described as classic 1980s.

For it was around that time that I first learnt about ­hosting the perfect dinner party. My parents were ­experts, and their children were more than happy to earn extra pocket money by folding napkins and buffing ­silverware.

Polishing the long Victorian dining table was the top job and my brother and I quickly discarded our yellow dusters upon discovering that ­gliding across the mahogany ­surface in our socks and on our ­bellies was equally effective.

Our cue for bed was when the candles were lit, hors d’oeuvres were dotted around the living room and the breathy panpipes of the Andes played in the background. It was showtime.

Ever disobedient, my rascal brother and I would perch on the stairs and peek through the banisters at the glamorous procession of friends who had arrived for the fun-packed evening and my mother’s ­fabulous food.

Once old enough to join the merry throng, suspicions of what I had been missing out on as a child were quickly ­realised.

And so it was that, as an adult, I relished throwing ­dinner parties.

It was no uncommon thing in Europe, but since I moved to the UAE nine years ago, I can count on one hand the number of similar soirées I have been to.

While dinners are admittedly organised weekly, they are always held at restaurants around town and rarely chez anyone.

Drinks and nibbles, barbecues and pool parties are ­evergreen in their popularity, but the same can’t be said for even the humblest or most ­intimate of suppers.

Having analysed the trend over the years I can only presume this is because we are thoroughly spoilt with a plethora of excellent eateries and fine-dining ­establishments.

We all want to try the newest, coolest spots in town, and catching up with our friends on the weekend is the perfect way to do it.

Or perhaps, it’s the ­preparation involved with a dinner party, not to mention the cost.

There’s no denying that feeding and watering up to eight guests is a pricey and time-consuming ­business.

Let alone the pressure ­involved, there’s also the ­inevitable relay race to-and-from the kitchen when you ­realise you’ve forgotten the water carafe, the salt and ­pepper mills, the serving spoons … practically everything apart from the crockery and floral ­centrepiece.

Or could it simply be that having written food reviews for the past few years – and being a self-proclaimed foodie – hosts fear I will pick their courses apart and assign them marks out of 10?

I would never be so bold, and can only reassure my pals that an unintentional flambé is not beyond my capabilities in the kitchen.

Which my dinner party guests this week will ­probably bear testament to. Here’s hoping that my ­polished-to-a-shine cutlery and mirror-like dining room table will prove suitable distractions from the cremated culinary offerings.

rduane@thenational.ae

Source: art & life

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